LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — Every year the state of Michigan takes possession of hundreds of millions of dollars that should be in the hands of Michiganians.
It’s called unclaimed property, and the good news is the state doesn’t want it.
The Unclaimed Property division in Lansing takes in thousands of items turned over to the state. Some of the items are taken from unclaimed safety deposit boxes including jewelry, baseballs signed by greats like Joe DiMaggio and even a silver dollar from the 1800s.
“It’s our goal and our responsibility to find the rightful owner of the property,” said Bruce Hanses, the administrator of the Treasury of Departmental Services.
It’s state law that after a certain amount of time, usually three years, if property goes unclaimed it gets turned over to the state and it’s not just from safety deposit boxes.
“That applies to these types of properties, it applies to uncashed checks, it applies to beneficiaries of life insurance policies,” Hanses said.
It isn’t just small amounts the state seizes, it’s big money the state takes in every year.
“Last year there was $220 million worth of property reported, we paid out just over $100 million to rightful owners,” said Hanses.
The good news is if the state has money or items that belong to you, officials don’t want to keep it.
“We do searches for example, we may search obituaries to find out if the person is deceased or who their family members are and try and reach out to them. We have contracts with companies who provide us with the detailed information about a person’s address or phone number,” Hanses said.
Getting your money back can be as easy as calling or going online to the Michigan Unclaimed Property website and searching your name and then follow the directions.
“Recently we returned about $200,000 worth of gold, physical gold.”
If money goes unclaimed it eventually gets transferred into the state’s general fund. The property gets appraised and eventually auctioned off. The good news is it’s never too late to claim your money, it never falls off the state books.